Helado Negro – “Please Won’t Please”

Helado Negro – “Please Won’t Please”

Ecuadorian-American artist Helado Negro, real name Roberto Carlos Lange, has been translating the complexities of Latinx identity into weightless, glowy electronic pop for a decade now, although he started tracking on many people’s radars with his 2016 album Private Energy and its life-affirming lullaby “Young, Latin and Proud.” He released the conceptual, mostly instrumental Island Universe Story Four EP this February and and Adult Swim one-off single called “Come Be Me” last summer.

Today, Lange has announced his full-length follow-up to Private Energy, called This Is How You Smile: a title lifted from Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl.”
In a press release, Lange describes the album as “the soundtrack of a person approaching you, slowly, for 40 minutes.” It’s out in March, and he’ll join Beirut on their 2019 North American and European tours.

Private Energy felt playful and bold, from its lyrics — which often explicitly journaled Lange’s triumphant love for his identity — to its funked-up, jazzy experimental production. But on “Please Won’t Please,” the first single off This Is How You Smile, there’s a newly aching sobriety, and a far more detached, abstract inward gaze. Kincaid’s “Girl” is a mother’s list of single-sentence rules for her daughter, instructing her on how to survive and seem acceptable in the world as a young immigrant and woman of color, if that gives any insight into Lange’s inspiration.

Although it’s a glowing, lovely song, “Please Won’t Please” sounds rubbed raw. Brick-heavy keys weight down flickering synths, while a muffled high-hat ominously keeps time. Lange’s velvet baritone sounds choked, somewhere deep below it’s steady surface, as he wearily sings: “And we’ll light our lives on fire/ Just to see if anyone will come/ Rescue what’s left of me.”

Listen below:

01 “Please Won’t Please”
02 “Imagining What To Do”
03 “Echo for Camperdown Curio”
04 “Fantasma Vaga”
05 “Pais Nublado”
06 “Running”
07 “Seen My Aura”
08 “Sabana de Luz”
09 “November 7″
10 “Todo Lo Que Me Falta”
11 “Two Lucky”
12 “My Name Is For My Friends”

02/10 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel*
02/11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel*
02/12 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues – Boston*
02/14 – Washington, D.C. @ The Anthem*
02/15 – Upper Darby, PA @ Tower Theatre*
02/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg*
02/19 – Montreal, QC @ MTELUS*
02/20 – Toronto, ON @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts*
02/21 – Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theatre*
02/22 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre*
02/23 – St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre*
02/26 – Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum Theatre*
02/27 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre*
02/28 – Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall*
03/02 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater*
05/10 – Los Angeles, CA – Walt Disney Concert Hall &

* w/ Beirut
& w/ Lila Downs

This Is How You Smile is out 3/8 on RVNG Intl. Pre-order it here.

CREDIT: Anna Groth-Shive

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